AFF’s Screenwriters Conference: Days 3 & 4

AFF neon logo

∼ Saturday: Day Three ∼

7:45am: Another early morning.  More caffeine needed.  There’s a coffee shop on the ground floor of my hotel that I’m thankful for, and it’s fairly popular due to its proximity to the conference.  They have my favorite flavor, lavender, for their coffee and the most delicious pastries.  It gets me through the bulk of the day.

9:00am – 10:15am: One of the panels I’m most looking forward to, Writing Sci-Fi with Gary Whitta and Emily Carmichael.  They both offer some useful tips and let us all know that it’s okay to not write 8 hours a day.  No one writes like that, and we shouldn’t feel like this is a goal we have to achieve.  I learned about the Pomodoro Technique (which I will look into a bit more) which suggests writing in 25 minute spurts.

Tips: 1) Keep a Dot Journal to track writing progress.  Check on it regularly.  (I haven’t done this yet because I’m still learning how to create this type of journal.)  2) Maintain consistency in your world.  If a character has a power, be sure to use it.  (This is something we, writers, sometimes forget.)  3) Keep the rules of the world simple.

10:45am – 12:00pm: Overcoming Scene Challenges with Meg LeFauve, Carly Wray, and Dave Kajganich.  This proved to be one of the best panels I attended.  The most important thing I learned was that if there’s a problem in Act 3, it’s most likely because of something in Act 1.  “You haven’t earned it” was repeated by the panelists, and this was a big note for me.  As many of you are aware, from my many references to my troublesome third act of one of my screenplays, I either have a problem earlier on, or I haven’t followed through with something to earn the third act.

I happened to have an opportunity the following morning to speak with Dave Kajganich while waiting for coffee.  I thanked him for his advice, and then he gave me some more.  He asked me what I was struggling with and offered me some alternative ways of thinking about it.  Does it have to have a happy ending?  I told him I like happily ever afters, but it got me thinking.  Maybe it doesn’t?  Does it have to take place in modern times?  No, it doesn’t, and I don’t know why I’ve been trying to force it.  He was appreciative of me reaching out, he wasn’t sure if anything he said during the panel was useful.

12:15pm – 2:15pm: The Awards Luncheon was not being held close by.  It was a number of blocks away and not paying attention to the time, I thought it started at 12:30pm, and add on a big parade for Día de Muertos, I was power walking to make sure I arrived on time.  There was no shuttle, and the AFF staff I spoke with were very helpful, but afraid that if I didn’t arrive before it started, I may not be able to get in at all.  This was an additional upgrade to my conference badge, so I was not missing out.

There were some amazing speeches, and it was an insight as to what was winning on the festival circuit.  It ran way over for time, so I was unable to make my next panel, so I grabbed another coffee and got in line for the Lawrence Kasdan retrospective.  Even an hour and a half before the panel I was still about 15 people from the beginning of the line.

4:45pm – 6:00pm: A look back at the life of Screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan.  He wrote The Big Chill, co-wrote Empire Strikes Back, wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bodyguard, French Kiss, As Good as it Gets, and so many more.  How could I not attend?!

7:30pm – 9:30pm: Pitch Finale.  Another writer from my FB group, Jasmine and I planned to meet up to attend the finale together.  All the winners of the pitch sessions gathered to pitch to the crowd and then winners were chosen from those.  It was so much fun and so inspiring.  There was a great deal of support and encouragement for the people pitching.

My shoulder ached from carrying around my computer bag all day, so after Deena and I grabbed a bite to eat, we returned to my hotel to minimize my carrying capacity so we could head to the last mixer of the weekend.

Upon exiting my room, we were dumbfounded to find a most likely drunken naked man in the hallway.  We never did find out if he had locked himself out, or was kicked out, but either way, when the young woman, who was the manager on duty arrived, another conference attendee, Deena, and I kept her company until the police arrived.  We weren’t going to leave her alone with a delusional nude.  That made for a good story when asked what we would remember most from the conference.

11:00pm: Heart of Film Cocktail Party.  I saw some familiar faces, which was nice, and made friends with Margaret.  One of the winners from my pitch session.

It had been such a long day, but so rewarding.

~ Sunday: Day Four ~

There was a Hair of the Dog Brunch at 10:00am but my check out was at noon and I was going to be in a panel, so I skipped it, and slept in a bit.  The sleep and food deprivation had finally caught up with me.  I checked my bag, grabbed a coffee (which is where I met Dave and got that great advice), met up with Jessica and Deena for a quick hello and pastry breakfast, and then Jessica and I made our way to one of our more anticipated panels.

11:30am – 12:45pm: The Quagmire of Female Character by Lindsay Doran.  When I was living in LA, I attended another presentation by Lindsay about the Psychology of Storytelling.  She’s an executive and producer and her insight is unlike any other.  She’s so engaging that I didn’t even take any notes, which, of course, I now regret.  If you’re familiar with what’s going on in Hollywood, and the rest of the world, you’ll have an understanding of the balancing act that is currently happening with how to handle female characters.  This panel enlightened us all.

Tip: If you have the opportunity to hear Lindsay Doran speak, do it.  

1:15pm – 2:30pm: Writing for Animation with Brad Graeber, Alvaro Rodriguez, and Willis Bulliner who created the animated Netflix series, Seis Manos.  Jessica didn’t have a panel planned, so she attended with me.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, it was more about how they got their show off the ground, but it was still interesting.

3:00pm – 4:15pm: Life as a Screenwriter with Shane Black and Scott Rosenberg was, I think, the last panel of the day.  It was the last one I attended anyway.  It was the other panel I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint.  These two screenwriters have been in the business for many years, and now, a bit older, have a different insight into the industry.  I thought I took some notes, but I can’t seem to find them.  Wah-wah.

4:15pm – 5:15pm: I have to say my farewells and get to the airport.  It was during my good-byes that I made a new connection with someone who is doing something I’ve been thinking about.  Traveling the world.  And getting paid for it.

I’m sad about leaving.  The entire weekend has been enlightening and I’ve had a wonderful time, even more than I thought I would.  I’ve made friends, and writer friends at that.  I gained a bit more insight about myself and what I want to do.  The tips and lessons learned have opened my eyes to my writing, which was the point of the trip.

Overall, for my first conference, I’m not sure I could have chosen any better.  If you have an opportunity to attend any writer’s conference, I definitely encourage it.  It’s an experience unlike any other.

If you attended AFF, I’d love to connect and swap stories.  If you’re planning on attending a conference and need some tips, I’m happy to help.

Happy Writing!

AFF’s Screenwriters Conference: Days 1 & 2

AFF neon logo

∼ Thursday: Day One ∼

3:30am: Slept maybe four hours and endured a rather bumpy flight which turned me a pale shade of green. By the time I made it into town from the airport, checked in to the hotel, and then checked in at the AFF registration, I was too late to attend the 11:30am Introduction/Welcome panel.  I signed up for the Roundtable I wanted to attend about an hour from then, but poor signage led me to the wrong room, so I missed out.

1:00pm – 2:15pm: I ended up in the Writer-Manager Relationship panel with Henry Jones and Ryan Cunningham.  Not what I was planning to attend, but learned that just as with any other relationship, finding someone who gets you is vital.

2:45pm – 4:00pm: I made my way to the Pitch Prep panel with Pamela Ribon for some advice on how to pitch before my go at it the following morning.  I was not at all prepared to pitch my idea, and at this point, didn’t even know what story I was going to pitch.  So much for being prepared.  We, writers, usually work best under pressure any way.  It was here I met Deena, who, I would later discover would become a fast friend, so that we could practice our pitch with someone.

Tip: If you have an opportunity to meet Pamela Ribon, take it.  She was engaging and funny and helped put the experience into perspective – pitching at AFF is not like pitching in any other situation.

5:00pm – 7:00pm: Opening Night Reception.  At this point, in my “normal” world, I would want a nap, but I was running on a high of the energy that seemed to infuse the entire area.  I was meeting people and learning things and I didn’t want to miss a moment.  I grabbed a drink and walked around the bar, but everybody already seemed to know people.  As I made my way to the back, I saw a solitary figure, and my first festival-made friend, Jessica.

We hit it off right away and she became one of my conference partners for the remainder of the weekend.  After the reception ended, we decided to get food.  I didn’t remember eating, so it sounded like a good idea.

Torrential downpour ensued and I was soaked through in minutes.

I purposefully ensured my room was close to all the action, and at that time, was thankful for my foresight.  There was a WGA Welcome Party at 11:00pm, but after the wet, the food, a hot shower, and writing and memorizing my pitch, I was done. 

~ Friday: Day Two ~

7:30am: Rise and shine!  Must. Have. Caffeine prior to pitch.  Kept running my pitch in my head…over and over and over…I decided to pitch my pilot, The Demeter.  Gotta say, pretty happy with the way it came out.

9:00am – 10:15am: Pitch session with Kelly Jo Brick and Cam Cannon.  Oof.  What a learning experience.  I was calm and collected, until the moment I was in front of the group.  The nerves kicked in and I stumbled about halfway through losing my train of thought.  I have this strange sort of memory thing.  If I write it down, I can see where it was on the page, and after a moment of collecting myself, I could see where I was in the pitch and finished.  So embarrassing, especially in light of all the positive feedback I received.  The judges were so reassuring that I had a strong, interesting pitch, and throughout the day, many people approached me and offered me support, even more so when they learned it was my first pitch ever.

It was here I met Margaret, who, again, would later become a fast friend.  She wasn’t even sure she would have an opportunity to pitch, and she ended up winning one of the two spots from our group.

10:45am – 12:00pm: The Life’s a Pitch panel with Tess Morris, Gary Whitta, and Ashley Miller.  You would think at this point I would have had my fill of pitching, but I wanted to know what it was like in the “real world”.

Tips: 1) Think of pitching like a conversation.  2) Everybody wants to hear a good story, so boil it down so they can retell it.  3) The more you pitch, the more the story may evolve.

1:00pm – 2:30pm: In-Person Meeting with agent Daniela Gonzalez set up by Roadmap Writers.  A fellow member of a writer’s group on FB made the introductions and I had the opportunity to sit with an agent and a group of amazing fellow writers, all women, and ask questions and gain real world knowledge of the industry.  When I arrived for the sit down, I was told it was canceled, so I left.  I quickly discovered it hadn’t been, and the group was kind enough to let me join in, a bit late.

3:15pm – 4:30pm: A no nonsense panel entitled “Practical Tips” with Phil Hay, Stephany Folsom, and Nicole Perlman.  They reiterated quite a bit I already knew, but hearing it from professionals made it that much more impactful.

Tips: 1) Don’t compare your process to others.  Understand what your process is and develop it.  2) Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a break.  (We are hard on ourselves.)  3) Make something – beyond the script – a play, a short, or a script reading.  4) Discover what it is that will give you validation.  5) As a new writer, the scale of your early projects shouldn’t be a risk or a budget concern.

4:45pm – 6:45pm: BBQ mixer.  Deena, Jessica and I had been in contact throughout the day and we decided to meet up for the shuttle to the mixer.  Behind us in line was a lone woman, Kyra.  I invited her into our group, and the four of us set off.  Now, some of you may know that I’m vegetarian, so you may be wondering what I was doing there.  It was a mixer.  An opportunity.  And I was taking advantage of whatever I could.  We met with other writers and had a great time amidst interesting conversations, but as the sun set, the temperature dropped, and none of us were prepared, so we headed back.

7:00pm – 10:00pm: The Stage 32 mixer on a rooftop with no heaters.  Brr.  As a member of Stage 32, I was looking forward to meeting some other members, and I’m glad I made the effort, even though after a short time I could no longer feel my toes.  I met the founder of Stage 32, RB and a handful of amazing writers.  Unfortunately, the cold drove Jessica and I out.  We had lost Deena earlier to pitch prep, and Kyra made friends and stayed behind.

There was a Final Draft Happy Hour at 11:00pm, but at that point, I didn’t think I was going to make it.  And I didn’t.  Instead I met up with Deena to help her with her pitch, and met more writers while hanging about the famous Driskill Hotel.

Again, I should’ve been exhausted, I’d barely eaten and was running on the fumes of caffeine, but I was having so much fun.  I talked with my sister and came to the realization that I wanted to follow my dreams.  I had wasted months not writing, being surrounded by negativity, and being emotionally drained after each day.  I was done.  Officially.  And it was one of those enlightening moments – I was going to move forward.

To be continued…

Writing Prompt #111

So, not only have I barely written a word in months, I haven’t posted much either.  My last writing prompt was back in May?!  May.  And it was like the only post for the month.

Gracious.

As another new year creeps around the corner, I have some major self reflection to do.  All that goal setting, the To Do lists, the plans…huh.  I really did waste some time.  Well that’s enough of that.

I offer this week’s Writing Prompt for the Challenge:

In the Water

If you’re inspired, please share what you create.  Maybe I’ll even jump on my own bandwagon.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Quote Mondays are back!

My days of slack are over.  My two-week self-imposed vacation must come to an end and the reason for said vacation must begin – following my dream.  Mondays are a great day to start a new thing.

So let my future commence today!

Don't downgrade your dream

What do you want to accomplish today?

Happy Writing!

What a Difference a Month Can Make

Goodness. Where to begin…

When I was last here, I was in a slump. I’m just now seeing my way out of it. I attended the Austin Film Festival the following morning and had one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll do a special post on my time there, this is just to remember what’s happened since.

Well, almost.

On my second night in Austin, after meeting some wonderfully welcoming people and attending panels that inspired, I had an epiphany. The environment I was subjected to in my day job was not where I wanted to be. It had not only become a hinderance to my dream job, I hadn’t written in a very long time, it was also emotionally stunting and draining. This maybe, probably, most definitely, added to my funk. I nearly wrote my resignation letter right then and there.

I had been contemplating the idea for a while. Since February, actually. Some of you may remember my rant about, what I will refer to as, “the incident”. It was the beginning of the downward spiral when I realized so many things about a place I had put a great deal of time and energy into. But I decided to suck it up and figured I could make it work, knowing that in a year our lease would be up (The Sis and I had already decided we weren’t going to renew again), and I could hang in there a year more, right?!

The answer, which grew in intensity, was a resounding no.

It all became clear, and so upon my return to reality, I finally took the leap and quit my day job to pursue my dream. It’s been about two weeks, so after a reset, I’m ready to move forward.

In the midst of this new path, The Sis and I have begun the Whole30. This requires a post of its own as well. Needless to say, we’re feeling better, have more energy (most days), have already lost a bit of weight, and are experimenting with new recipes. We had sort of been in a food rut too. We had planned a trip to Disneyland for the holidays, but the thought of not having a churro or a candy apple, or dare I say a cocktail because of the offerings of adult beverages at California Adventure, were not the things either of us wanted to shy away from.

Then there was the definitive decision to move out of state. So now the unloading of all the unnecessary items has begun. There’s the sorting of all our belongings, the consolidation, the research, the stress. There’s also excitement at the prospect. Ah, the new and unknown.

And finally, let me touch upon the fact that now I can write. Have I? Other than this post, sadly no, not yet, but I have been thinking a lot about the rewrites I have to do and some new story ideas, so there’s that. The Whole30 takes up a lot of time and the move has shifted my focus, temporarily, because there are only so many hours in the day, but in the back of my mind, things are happening.  I’m making some changes to the routine I’m so fond of and how I want to approach my career.

I’ve read a number of articles on time management and many offer similar techniques so I plan on incorporating some of them in the hopes I will be more productive and be able to use this time I’ve been given taken to its fullest. If any of them show promise, I’ll be sure to share.

If any of you have chosen the “follow your dreams” path, I’d love to hear how you handle that while trying to handle everything else.

Happy Writing!

Writer’s Slump

I’ve been quiet…for a while. Initially it was because I was focused on my work. My real work. I’m still disconnected from the day job since the incident back in February, so at least there’s that. It still takes up a lot of time and energy, just the same. But then a series of mental hits soon followed and I lost my mojo. I’m second guessing myself. I don’t write, even when I want to. I don’t know how to fix some of my story issues, I’m feeling depressed, and I’m just not writing.

I leave for the Austin Film Festival in the wee hours of the morning and I had this huge laid out plan for how I was going to be prepared for it. I was excited and ready to take on the challenge, and then, in the blink of an eye, the passion disappeared. No matter how many quotes about being positive and goal oriented, fearless and creative I read or post, nothing is cracking this current mood.

Yes, yes, I know that failure is a part of the process, but I feel like I’ve been struggling for a long time, when I know, in reality, with all the spurts of inactivity, it’s only been a few years that I’ve been actively pursuing a career. This year’s screenwriting competition season offered me nothing. With only one more competition awaiting announcement, I sort of feel like… I wasted a lot of money. I love the story I submitted, and it’s not to say that someone else won’t feel the same way I do about it in the future, but the lack of upward mobility was less than encouraging.

I don’t know why I want to rant about this. I’m guessing that sometimes we all feel like this, and maybe it would be helpful for other struggling writers to realize they’re not alone. We all hit walls along this creative path, but if it’s truly what we want to do, then I guess, after some moping, we’ll get off our asses and get back to it.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Because I only have tonight to shift this mentality and take advantage of this huge step I’m taking. And even though it may not sound like I’m excited, I am, deep down, and I’m sure everything will change once I board that plane and the realization hits of what it is I’m going to do.

I’m going to my first screenwriter’s conference!

I plan to discuss the conference day by day and hopefully impart some of the wisdom and helpful tips I learn. I’m hoping to get my mojo back, be inspired, and feel empowered, as well as make some writer friends who understand this journey.

So before that happens, what do you do when you hit a writer’s slump?

The “One Movie A Week” Challenge Part 2

MovieReelBack in March I shared that I had started watching one new movie a week in order to catch up on all that I had missed.  I’m a bad screenwriter.  I wasn’t watching much.

I’m happy to report that I’ve maintained my momentum.

Now that we’re over half way through the year, I thought I’d share part two of my viewings.  This time I’m trying a strict A, B, C rating.  There may be the occasional + or – , but I’m doing my best to limit those half measures.

10. The Breaker Uppers – If you’ve seen Taika Waititi’s charming 2014 film, What We Do in the Shadows, you’ll recognize one of the leads of this film, Jackie van Beek.  Waititi is also a producer of this film about two women who provide a service of helping people break up in elaborate ways, so I had high hopes.  It failed to deliver.  While the two leads obviously have chemistry, the story fell flat.  My rating: C

11. Train to Busan – I had come across a number of positive comments about this zombie thriller, and it lived up to the hype. The story follows a father and his young daughter who have grown apart because of divorce on a train ride to return her to her mother.  Over the course of a tense and dire train ride, human nature is put to the test, and we learn what’s most important.  My rating: A

12. Outlaw King – Despite its historical inaccuracies, Braveheart is still one of my favorite films.  So I was intrigued when this movie showed up on Netflix about the man who would be King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce.  In Braveheart, his father made the alliance with England to secure his throne.  While obviously not made on the same grand scale, this film was still enjoyable and insightful into the life of a man we saw very little of previously.  My only major complaint, why cast an American actor to sell a movie people will most likely watch anyway?  My rating: B

13. A Quiet Place – This was a film that was being referenced quite a bit in screenwriting circles when it was released so it had to be put on my list so I could see what all the hubbub was about.  It opens up without any preamble and you quickly learn how vital silence is in this post-apocalyptic world where humans are under threat from vicious aliens who can hear the slightest sound.  As we watch this family struggle to survive, we have to wonder how long can people live like this?  Try moving around your house without making a sound and see how long you would survive.  My rating: A

14. Kick Ass – This had been on my list for some time, but with streaming services, things come and go, and some times you just miss out.  I miss Blockbuster.  When it popped back up I took the opportunity to watch it.  It’s entertaining, it has heart, and has plenty of action and violence.  Watching a young superhero wannabe come into his own, and getting his ass handed to him repeatedly, is kind of inspiring.  Also watching a small Chloë Grace Moretz be a total bad ass is just fun.  My rating: B

15 & 16. Avengers: Endgame – This will get a proper post, especially now that it’s on DVD.  The Sis missed the first viewing, so saw it twice in a week.  There’s a lot to take in so watching it twice was like watching it again for the first time. 😉  My rating: A

17. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I didn’t really plan on watching this, but when my little fur baby had some weird hive reaction all over her face in the middle of the night, I had to stay up and I figured the mindless action would do the trick.  The first Jurassic Park is still amazing but the new franchise is just disappointing.  No matter how endearing Chris Pratt is.  The opening sequence of the island being destroyed by a volcano and the animals fleeing for their lives, no matter the CGI element, was unsettling, and set me off right away.  There are some interesting moments, but overall the highlight of the film is Jeff Goldblum.  My rating: C

18. The Darkest Minds – There are a slew of dystopian teen films out there, and every once in a while, there’a a good one.  Maybe the book is better.  A genetic mutation has occurred in teens that gives them powers.  Now considered a threat, they are sent to camps where the most dangerous are eliminated, or used as weapons.  This is another film that had a few good moments, but overall has nothing to distinguish itself against so many others of its kind.  My rating: C

19. The Losers – One guess why I watched this movie.  Chris Evans and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  I enjoy elite forces/spy films, and the trailer for this movie showcased its sense of humor, but again, this story had nothing to differentiate it from the horde of other similarly themed films – agents thought dead return for retribution.  My rating: C

20. Their Finest – A period piece about screenwriting?  Sure.  I’m in.  A movie about women making headway in a male dominated industry.  Yeah, I’m in.  Starring Gemma Arterton, who carries the film about creating a propaganda movie during WWII about the evacuation at Dunkirk, is charming and engaging.  The film, overall, is well done and a peek into an aspect of filmmaking that encourages nationalism.  My rating: B

21. Isle of Dogs – The first Wes Anderson I ever saw initially left me confused.  I didn’t quite get his humor but now he’s one of my favorites and I look forward to seeing his name on a project.  He has such style, and a strange sense of humor, and while this story about dogs being quarantined is not my favorite of his, it does highlight our relationship with our furry friends and the loyalty born from it.  Like many of his films, it definitely requires a second viewing, and I’m sure it will grow on me.  My (current) rating: B

22. Always Be My Maybe – A film about childhood friends finding love years later is not a new concept, and yet this romantic comedy hit the mark.  So many of my friends were talking about it, so I gave it a watch.  Surprisingly, it was just the right amount of cute and funny with two likable leads.  Then there’s Keanu Reeves who steals the show.  My rating: B+

23. Z for Zachariah – I like apocalyptic movies.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because people are awful and it’s interesting to watch what they’re willing to do and wonder what I might do in the same situation.  This film has an Adam and Eve aspect to it as two people are trying to survive in the only habitable place left, but even in the end times, a rivalry for the woman’s hand was the most pressing matter.  My rating: C

24. Swiss Army Man – What a strange and unique film about the power of imagination and learning to accept yourself.  Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe make a good team, even when the humor was a little off-color.  The ending is open to interpretation and was the only part of the film that disappointed me.  As we’ve all learned (looking at you, GoT), endings are difficult.  My rating: B

25. IO: Last on Earth – Another apocalyptic movie in a sea of similarly themed tales that failed to deliver.  The world has become toxic and people have fled to the stars, save one young woman, a scientist who is carrying on her father’s work to save the world.  MCU’s Anthony Mackie is one of the only remaining humans left who, no matter how charming, has absolutely no chemistry with the last woman on Earth.  My rating: C

26. Rim of the World – Maybe because I never went to summer camp, I’m drawn to movies about the possibilities that camp and the nostalgia of youth they offer.  Of course, I’m not sure how I would have responded to aliens attacking when I was 13.  This movie was inspired by a number of its sci-fi predecessors and is clearly meant for a younger audience.  While not great, by any means, it was kind of fun, and at least gives the viewer hope that the younger generation will step up.  My rating: C

27. The Spy Who Dumped Me – Well this one took me by surprise.  A buddy/spy comedy starring two women that handle sh*t on their own?  I’m a fan of Kate McKinnon, she steals the show at every turn, and this movie about two best friends who wind up in an international conspiracy is no different.  There are some outlandish (pun intended for Sam Heughan?) moments, but the chemistry between the two leads keeps the movie afloat.   My rating: B

28. Lady Bird – I don’t know what it feels like to be so fearless and opinionated.  I grew up trying to keep the peace and always putting on a happy face.  Maybe this is why I, personally, had a hard time relating to Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird.  She’s an angsty teenager trying to figure herself out while dealing with her strong willed mother.  My rating: B

29. BlacKkKlansman – By far the best movie I’ve seen all year.  The premise was, of course, interesting – the first black officer in Colorado Springs in the 70s infiltrates the KKK by using a white counterpart – and completely deserving of its accolades.  It’s an important movie, especially in these turbulent times, and the ending sequence is disturbing and thought provoking.  And it’s true.  My rating: A+

30. Early Man – As you may know, from reading a previous review, I’m a fan of Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit.  The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a favorite.  Early Man stars my future husband, Tom Hiddleston, so it was always going to be on my watch list.  While the animation is still superb, the comedy just didn’t do it for me this time around, and especially since the entire movie basically revolves around a game of soccer/football, I sort of tuned out.  Maybe I’ll give it another watch at some point and see if it grows on me.  My rating: B

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, so there are more movies to add…for the next one. :). Any suggestions on what I should watch next?

Quote Monday

InspireLast week I wrote an entire blog post after learning that my pilot had not advanced in the second contest I had entered.  I was sad and the overall tone was not the happy-stay positive-reach for your dreams-vibe I try to maintain here.

So I didn’t post it.

Rejection, in any form, is tough to take.  People say all sorts of things to put a positive spin on the situation, but when it comes down to it, rejection plain ol’ sucks.

I was already struggling with the third act of one screenplay, and I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything in order for the conference in October, so this news struck a blow.  I was down for the rest of the day.  But that’s part of the process.  You take the hit, get back up, and show ’em.

It’s hard when so much is in our hands as writers, and so much that isn’t.

It’s not like I didn’t know this going in, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.  The whisper of doubt that sneaks its way in about the possibility that no one will ever like what I write and I never become a professional screenwriter grows louder with each rejection, but then I think of the people that were once just like me.

Every writer ever.

So no, I’m not giving up.  On the contrary.  I’m just getting started.  So here is the “stay positive-reach for your dreams” tip of the day:

Wear that rejection like a badge of honor because at least it shows that your striving towards your goals.  How many people do you know that are unwilling to even try?

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Small Steps

pic-jointer-11I’ve found that I haven’t had much to say lately.  I’m not sure exactly why.  In part it could be because the last couple of months have been sort of strange.  Since that incident at work back in February, I’m happy to report that my shift in focus has remained.  It is weird there though.  I’m more focused on the job I actually want, even though the progress is slow sometimes, I am still moving forward.

I’ve been better about reading, which somehow eluded me last year, and I’ve maintained my one-movie-a-week routine (although I did see the Avengers twice, so I’m small-stepsone movie shy of my goal as I write this).  I’ve rewritten two acts of one of my screenplays, I entered my TV pilot into 7 contests, I’ve come up with a new screenplay idea that I’m excited about (let’s just add that to the backlog of ideas currently nestled in the recesses), and I bought my airline ticket and badge for the Austin Film Festival screenwriters conference.  So…yay!

Not that long ago, we had been broke, The Sis and I.  Not so broke that I was worried we might end up homeless, because we always made sure we paid rent, but poor enough that there were a few times we used a credit card to buy groceries and pay bills.  Not a great place to find one’s self.  Now, I’m in a position to attend a writers conference, one of my goals, and I’m nervous and delighted.

Having this external goal compels me to get my writer’s portfolio in order.  There is no way I’m going to squander this opportunity.  It’s one thing to submit to contests, it’s another to hopefully meet and mingle with people who could actually propel my career forward, and so I have to get my sh*t in order.  No more messing around.  No more excuses.  If I’m going to spend this big shiny penny, I have to make the most of it.

It also helps to keep striving when you receive feedback like this from a contest you entered:

“Vivid world building and unique characters set a great foundation for the series. The dialogue between the characters is distinctive and introduces creative dialects and words that the sci-fi audience will love.”

Thank you, Slamdance!

So I’m committing to this page my goals for the next 17 weeks:

  1. Have 3 full length features show ready
  2. Have my Pilot’s Bible ready
  3. Flesh out at least 3 like-genre scripts
  4. Flesh out 1 out of genre script (will save this to the end 😛 )

DreamsWrittenDownAreGoals

Whew.  I’m at some stage of progress on each goal, but there’s still plenty to do, so I better get cracking.

How are you moving towards your goals?  Please share your small steps and let’s celebrate them together!  Also, are you planning on attending AFF?  It would be great to meet a familiar “face”.  😉

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #110

Hello!

It’s been some time since I posted a Writing Prompt.  I was immediately drawn to this image while scrolling through Pinterest yesterday.  Yes, I still have that problem. 😉

GirlinGarden

Feel like joining me in a little Writing Prompt Challenge?

Happy Writing!